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Lockdown on virus-hit Hubei province eased as China’s new coronavirus infections double

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China's Hubei province where the coronavirus pandemic originated will lift travel restrictions on people leaving the region as the epidemic there eases, but other regions will tighten controls as new cases double due to imported infections.

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The Hubei Health Commission announced it would lift curbs on outgoing travellers starting March 25, provided they had a health clearance code.

The provincial capital Wuhan, where the virus first appeared and which has been in total lockdown since since Jan. 23, will see its travel restrictions lifted on April 8.

However, the risk from overseas infections appears to be on the rise, prompting tougher screening and quarantine measures in major cities such as the capital Beijing.

China had 78 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, a two-fold increase from Sunday. Of the new cases, 74 were imported infections, up from 39 imported cases a day earlier.

The Chinese capital Beijing was the hardest-hit, with a record 31 new imported cases, followed by southern Guangdong province with 14 and the financial hub of Shanghai with nine. The total number of imported cases stood at 427 as of Monday.

Only four new cases were local transmissions. One was in Wuhan which had not reported a new infection in five days.

Wuhan residents will soon be allowed to leave with a health tracking code, a QR code, which will have an individual's health status linked to it.

In other parts of the country, authorities have continued to impose tougher screening and quarantine and have diverted international flights from Beijing to other Chinese cities, but that has not stemmed the influx of Chinese nationals, many of whom are students returning home from virus-hit countries.

Beijing's city government tightened quarantine rules for individuals arriving from overseas, saying on Tuesday that everyone entering the city will be subject to centralised quarantine and health checks.

The southern city of Shenzhen said on Tuesday it will test all arrivals and the Chinese territory of Macau will ban visitors from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The number of local infections from overseas arrivals – the first of which was reported in the southern travel hub of Guangzhou on Saturday – remains very small.

On Monday, Beijing saw its first case of a local person being infected by an international traveller arriving in China. Shanghai reported a similar case, bringing the total number of such infections to three so far.

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